This year (Y2K, 2000, the new millenium) was a breakthrough year for digital videographers. New products were introduced that gave an unprecedented level of value, power and performance for non-linear editing. Many of the products featured in this article have had significant price drops in the past few months!
By far and away the hottest new feature to appear in 2000 was Real-Time editing. With Real-Time systems you can play back your video directly from the timeline, with out having to render. Effects such as dissolves, wipes, titling and even 3D page peels play back in REAL-TIME! What does this mean to you? Unprecedented productivity while you edit. You can now make major changes to your timeline and view them instantly out to tape, in their full resolution!!
Half the products listed in this years Top 10 offer you Real-Time features, but not all Real-Time systems offer the same degree of Real-Time effects. It is up to you to decide just how much Real-Time performance you need and what your budget is. The important thing to consider when making your Real-Time budget is the added productivity. If the new system will save you 2 or 3 hours a week in editing time, then its REAL cost is much lower too you!
The other big news in Y2K for digital videographers was the emergence of new delivery formats. You can now deliver your video productions on CD-Rom, DVD and over the internet - you are no longer limited to videotape. By being able to offer your audience a choice of formats, more people then ever will be able to view your work!! Both MPEG2/DVD authoring and web video streaming are still in their infancy. While the technology is readily available, implementing it can become expensive. DVD burners are still extremely expensive and setting up a server with adequate bandwidth for multiple video streams is complicated and costly. Thankfully the future looks very bright on these points. By NAB2001 we should be seeing dramatically lower cost solutions for burning DVD content and a wide range of video streaming ISPs are emerging. These new ISPs will host your streaming content for you. You'll get a various levels of of bandwidth and storage for a small monthly fee. Even cooler, some of these sites will let you stream a few clips free in exchange for allowing them to ad a small ad to your clip or if you use their interface (with their banners on it).
The winners are:
* Matrox RT2000
* Pinnacle Systems' DV500
* Applied Magic Screenplay 1.5
* Medea VideoRaid SCSI
* dpsVelocity 7.5
* Pixelan Spicemaster
* Sonic Solutions DVDit!
* Media 100/Terran Cleaner 5
* Canopus MegaRex with RexRT MPEG Module
* Boris Graffiti
Hot New Product
* Dazzle* FAST DV.nowAV
* JVC HRDVS1U DV/S-VHS Dual Deck
* TeraOptix Terapin Video CD Recorder
At this years DV Expo in Long Beach we presented the awards to the winners. They all proudly displayed them in their booths at the show!! That is why I chose to include pictures of them from DV Expo instead of the usual box shots. After each Top 10 products write-up you can find two links. The first will be for additional specs, the second will take yo directly to our on line order form. At the end of the article is a list of the runners up and a quick product specs locator. Here's hoping that next years new products are even better! Something tells me we won't be disappointed!!!
While I don't usually rank the products in my annual Top 10 article, two products are clearly in a league by themselves this year. Both the RT2000 and DV500 offer you real-time editing, DV & Analog I/O plus CD-Rom/DVD authoring. Since they were introduced in early 2000 they have added many new features and they have both had major price reductions! For under $1,000 the RT2000 & DV500 offer more value than any products I have ever reviewed. This is not an exaggeration! These two products have revolutionized the industry and made video editing better, more affordable and easier to do for thousands of digital videographers all over the world!
Matrox RT2000 $999.95
The RT2000 is a Native DV & MPEG2 editing system with DV & analog I/O plus CD & DVD authoring. But what makes the RT2000 so special is the 3D Flex technology that delivers amazing 3D FX in real-time! It is these 3D FX that make this card so powerful and so much fun to use. The new 2.0 version (October release, Free upgrade for all registered owners) adds real-time keyframing to these FX. This means you will get complete control over the positioning, motion, size and timing of your FX. Unlike 3rd party plug-ins that cost hundreds of dollars, the RT2000 Mega3D FX let you work in a real-time full motion WYSIWYG keyframing environment. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. And what you get is the ability to manipulate and scrub through your keyframed FX in real-time. No rendering at all!! And since you don't have to waste time rendering, you can spend more time getting your FX just right!!
Since it's introduction this product has improved dramatically. While initially we did have some compatibility issues, Matrox has attacked the problem diligently. They have released 3 Service Packs and tested most of the current motherboards and configurations. The 2.0 drivers will fix the few remaining issues. Matrox has updated the compatibility page on their website constantly and they provide you technical tips such as what slot to put the RT2000 in, special BIOS settings and direct links to any needed drivers. Special Kudos to Matrox for offering this exceptional level of pre-sales configuration support!
The new RT2000 MEGA Pack gives you a a ton of new 3D FX and other product enhancements:
1. Keyframer – Real-Time control of 3D FX
2. Particle effects - Video 1 shatters into tiny pieces, revealing Video 2
3. Tile effects- this is where the video gets broken into a checkerboard and the boxes flip & fly away
4. Title Express – a special real-time version of Inscribers TitleMotion made exclusively for the RT2000
5. Improved 1394 connectivity & functionality including manual capture
6. Windows ME support
With the addition of this MAJOR upgrade (FREE to registered users) the RT2000 becomes even more powerful. For under $1,000 it is a phenomenal value. If you love 3D transitions and FX like I do, then RT2000 is the card for you!!!
RT2000 Specs | I want one!!
Pinnacle DV500 $799.95
The DV500 is a Native DV editing system that supports DV and analog I/O as well as CD-ROM authoring. While it doesn't offer you real-time 3D FX, it does ship with Hollywood FX Copper, a very useful 3D transition program. The FX in Hollywood are animated 3D transitions that go far beyond page curls and picture-in-picture. My favorite Hollywood effect is when Video 1 folds into a paper airplane and flies off into the distance of Video 2. Pinnacle offers an amazing upgrade offer to the Bronze version for $100 to DV500 owners. Bronze gives you a very sophisticated keyframer and the ability to create 3D transitions with multiple video images. The DV500 bundle also includes Pixelan Spices for adding real-time 2D transitions and TitleDeko for real-time titling.
The DV500 has added new features and FX that make it the most versatile real-time card on the market. It now supports Win2K and Windows ME, in addition to Win98 & NT. So regardless of your operating system, the DV500 will work for you! One of the most useful new features that has been added to the DV500 is real-time slow motion. You no longer have to wait and wait while the entire slow motion clip gets rendered. If you use slow-mo in your videos, this is a killer new feature for you. Pinnacle has also added a very cool filter called the Real-time Pinnacle Image Correction filter which allows the simultaneous adjustment of brightness, contrast and saturation. I have found this feature extremely useful. I love my DV cam, but difficult lighting situations create video that is color shifted or dull. With the image correction filter, I am able to salvage tons of shots that would otherwise be discarded. Or if I used them, I'd have to let Premiere apply the filters and have it render, and render and render. Real-Time image correction is a major new feature that once again makes you a more productive editor!
For Digital Videographers needing additional features such as real-time DV output, MPEG2 editing w/ Instant output and more advance image processing the Pinnacle DC1000DV with new 2.0 drivers is an excellent step up to consider. If you want all this functionality plus BetaCam I/O and balanced audio, the new DC2000DV is a great choice and just missed this years Top 10 list.
DV500 Specs | I want one!!
Applied Magic Screenplay 1.5 w/ 36GB drive $3999
Screenplay is a stand alone non-linear video editing system. Units like this are often called an editing appliance, but I feel that term does not do this product justice. Screenplay gives you all the powers and features of a computer based NLE system including real-time transitions, effects and titling! With version 1.5 this product has gotten the polish, power and performance to be considered one of my Top 10 products of the year. The 1.6 drivers (expected shortly and available Free to all registered owners) will add keyframable PIP and title motion as well as 3D titling.
What makes Screenplay so outstanding is how simple and easy it is to use. You simply attach a video monitor, turn it on, plug in your camcorder (analog or DV) and capture your footage. Need some audio tracks? Just pop in your favorite CD and record it to your hard drive. The editor interface is storyboard based and extremely easy to use and productive. With each new version additional transitions and features have been added, so like many of the products featured in this article, Screenplay gets better as it gets older!
Applied Magic has just released a lower cost version called Sequel. While not nearly as powerful as the Screenplay, it is ideal for schools, organizations and home videographers who want to get a fully functional NLE system for under $2,000!
ScreenPlay Specs | I want one!!
Medea VideoRAID 60GB $999.95
For the 4th straight year, VideoRAIDs have been named one of our Top 10 products. This year new drive sizes and performance are the reasons why. For under $1,000, you can get 60 gigs of screaming fast storage (under $2,000 for 120GB!!) capable of supporting real-time cards like the DC1000DV, RT2000 , RexRT & DV500. For more professional editing systems new 4 drive RT units starting at $2,500 for 120 GB will fully support card like the DPS Velocity, Toaster NT, DigiSuite and iFinish & Media 100.
I have always been a fan of external storage solutions for video editing systems. I like having the ability to 'sneaker net' my storage from one machine to the other. VideoRAIDs can also grow with you. Need more storage? Add another VideoRAID! Better still, if you upgrade to a new NLE system, you can just remove the VideoRAID from the old one and attach it to your new one. In my home NLE system I'm still using the 50GB VideoRAID I used for my testing of the DC1000 almost 2 years ago! I've updated my computer and tested almost a dozen different capture cards since then, but my trusty VideoRAID is still where all the video goes!!!
VideoRAID Specs | I want one!!
DPS Velocity 3D $4795
This is my top choice for professional editors who require broadcast quality video with tremendous real-time features. The Velocity system uses their Reality hardware which supports MPEG compression as low as 1:5 to one or even uncompressed video. You get Betacam, S-Video and composite I/O. Additional daughter cards can be added to give you SDI, DV or both. You can get started with the 2D version of the Velocity for under $3,000, but it is with the addition of their real-time 3D card that gives you power and performance comparable to systems costing twice as much!! The real-time card gives you an incredible array of 3D transitions and effects that are all real-time. You get real-time slow motion and chroma keying as well.
With the 7.5 driver DPS has pushed the Velocity beyond broadcast video and into web streaming and DVD production. You can export your video into the leading web streaming formats in real-time or attach your Velocity system to a web server and stream live over the internet. The coolest feature of all is the ability to add a live camera feed into your timeline!! Combined with web streaming, this allows you to create an incredible web streaming production studio.
Velocity Specs | I want one!!
Pixelan SpiceMaster $229.95
Each year a new NLE plug-in comes along that really knocks my socks off! This year it is the SpiceMaster. I've always used lots of Spices in my video productions. These 2D transitions look nice, render quickly (real-time with a DV500 or DC1000DV) and make my video look more professional without becoming cheesy. What SpiceMaster gives you is a fantastic user interface for selecting your Spices and more important, customizing and keyframing them to fit perfectly with your video content.
As an example, let's say I select a basic organic Spice. This transition lets Video 1 gradually dissolve and flow into Video 2. With SpiceMaster I can soften the edges, add transparency, move the center of the transition anywhere I want and keyframe the transition so that it flows with my content. This may sound complicated, but with SpiceMaster it's a breeze. Even more important, I get to preview everything I'm doing in real-time. Not only do I have complete control, but instant feedback as to how I'm manipulating my transition. Once you master SpiceMaster (sorry couldn't resist the pun) you can take it to the next level by combining transitions with other effects and images. The possibilities are really endless.
SpiceMaster Specs | I want one!!
Sonic DVDit! SE $449.95
One of the coolest new technologies that is becoming affordable is DVD content creation. What I love about DVDit! Is how simple it is to author your projects. You can add menus and cool buttons, insert chapter points in your video clips and create fully interactive content all with drag & drop ease! While the cost of a DVD burner is still prohibitive ($4500 street) Sonic has come up with new solutions that let you author and burn your high resolution DVD content on a CD ROM. Called cDVD, DVDit! Lets you create a fully interactive program, with the only limit being the 15-20 minutes of DVD quality video you can pack on a CD. The cost of DVD burners will start to drop and once you can afford one, DVDit! has all the tools you will need to author fully interactive DVDs.
At the top of the DVDit! Product line is PE (Professional Edition). PE gives you 99 menu layers and chapter points, Dolby audio support and the ability to create a DLT master. You can then send this DLT master to a DVD duplicating facility to have them run off thousands of copies for you.
DVDit! Specs | I want one!!
Media 100 / Terran Cleaner 5 $549.95
Ok, we've all heard about how cool web video streaming is going to be, but we've all seen what web video really looks like. With Cleaner 5, web streaming is finally going to start delivering the kind of quality content and interactivity we've all been waiting for. Cleaner 5 is the new version of the industry standard Media Cleaner Pro software. Media Cleaner Pro became the industry standard by offering content creators the tools they would need to compress their video into the smallest possible bandwidth while delivering the best possible quality. With Cleaner 5 it has gotten even better. Now you can compress to all the latest web streaming formats including Real Video 8, Windows Media 7 and Quicktime 4. In additon, they have added support for MPEG1 & MPEG2. By leveraging their purchase of Wired, Media 100 offers you the ability to add the Digital Media Press to massively accelerate your compressions.
Cleaner 5 is now much more than just a compression tool. It allows you to embed events in your video streams. Now you can add a link to your web streams for your audience to go directly to your on line order form or to download the latest spec sheets. Cleaner 5 is the tool that I believe will allow web video streaming to begin to deliver on the promise of interactivity and quality. Yes, we still need loads of bandwidth, but cable modems and DSL are becoming available nationwide at very affordable rates. Thanks to Cleaner 5, we may actually start to provide folks with High speed connections with the quality content they crave!
Cleaner5 Specs | I want one!!
Canopus MegaRex with MPEG2 Module MPEG2 Module $699.95
Canopus products appear in my Top 10 list year after year, and for a very good reason: THEY WORK GREAT! No company delivers more stable drivers and pure editing speed than Canopus. Now, they have added real-time MPEG2 export from the timeline plus support of web streaming and Premiere RT! That's right, you can now get all of the RexRT's cool real-time features such as color correction, picture-in-picture, 10 layers of graphics and more from within Premiere!!
With the Amber module you can now go directly from DV to MPEG2 in real-time. This can be straight encoding for archiving or as an export from the timeline. The quality of the MPEG2 streams you can create is spectacular. You can then import your MPEG2 streams into an authoring package (ie Spruce Virtuoso or Sonic DVDit!) and create fully interactive DVD titles.
When you combine the Native DV Real-Time features & effects with Real-Time MPEG2 output and web streaming support, it becomes very clear why the MegaRex has emerged as the Wedding/Event Videographer's NLE of choice.
MegaRex Specs | I want one!!
Boris Graffiti $399.95 w/ Boris FX5 $599.95
One of the most requested things I hear about from digital videographers is that they want better titling. The folks at Boris have heard this as well, and they have delivered a phenomenal 3D titling program called Graffiti. Best of all, it uses their familiar Boris engine and keyframer GUI and it plugs-in to your NLE software! If you are familiar with Boris, you will find that you can get the hang of Grafitti very quickly. It really is similar to use and just as powerful. You can create 3D titles that fly all over the screen. The level of control you get is amazing. Go Crazy, give each letter of the title its own font, shape, motion path and color. Grafitti can do it! (Note: Your audience may not like it). The point I am trying to make here is that Graffiti is the 3D titling tool you've been dreaming about. A new release is expected shortly that will cut rendering times down significantly which will make Graffiti as productive as it is powerful!!!
Graffiti Specs | I want one!!
Dazzle Fast DVnowAV Now shipping $499.95
This product was not yet available in the USA at the time I wrote this article. Nonetheless, I felt it was important to include it. Why? Because it is the first product to give you analog & DV I/O plus the full Premiere for under $500!!! That's right- DV and analog for under $500!! Even better, the FastForward capture software lets you scan and batch capture your video automatically. Then, you can use it to storyboard your production and with the click of the mouse your storyboard is exported into Premiere. But wait, it's even cooler then that, you can have your favorite transition inserted automatically between each scene!
DVnowAV Specs | I want one!!
Not only was this a great year for Non-Linear Editing products, 2 very amazing gadgets hit the market that I feel are a welcome addition to everyone's home editing system.
JVC HRDVS1U DV/S-VHS Dual Deck $1499 w/ any video capture card
This is simply the most important new addition to my non-linear editing system this year. This amazing deck supports both S-VHS and DV. It is a dual deck, so you get a slot for each type. You can dub from one to the other and you can output S-Video via FireWire to your DV based NLE system. You can also record on a regular VHS tape in the SVHS slot. Let me tell you, I have never seen VHS copies of DV footage that look so good!! And I'm not the only one. Several of the leading members of the DV-L list performed their own tests and came to the same exact conclusion. Besides making spectacular copies, the HRDVS1U works perfectly with our DV capture cards. You get complete device control from your NLE system and if your NLE software has batch capture, it works great with this deck!
HRDVS1U Specs | I want one!!
TeraOptix Terapin Video CD In Stock $579.95
This little marvel lets you record from any analog video source directly to CD-ROM!! That's right, you can record 74 minutes of VHS quality footage directly to a CD-ROM for playback in computers AND set top home DVD players!! (Note: This unit supports the VCD format. DVD players made since 1999 can read and play these disks. Earlier DVD players were not able to read CD ROMs, so they will not work).
The best thing about this unit is its price. For under $600 you can now begin saving your video footage on disk. This unit is great for wedding and event videographers and for training materials. It creates a thumbnail menu for each clip you record so you even get limited interactivity. Not only is it a great addition to your editing suite, it is very convenient for your home. We took all our kids favorite songs from their favorite kids videos and put them on 3 disks. Not only can we take them anywhere, but we can immediately access the clip they are driving us crazy to watch. The Terapin allows you to capture from VCRs, camcorders, DVD player and NLE systems. New CDs being released shortly have added capacity and will allow you to store about 90 minutes of video!!
Terapin Specs | I want one!!
The following new products just missed being named to this year's list and they certainly deserve honorable mention.
* PinnacleDC2000DV: Real-Time NLE system w/ component, analog & DV I/O
* Promise Fast Track100: EIDE RAID controller
* Boris FX 5.0: 3D Special FX plug-in
* Cleaner EditDV Suite DV: editing and compression bundle
* Edit DVD Producer: DV to MPEG2 editing & authoring solution
* ADS Pyro Drive Kit: Turn any EIDE drive into a FireWire drive
* Dazzle DVC2: Low cost analog MPEG2 editing solution
* Ulead Media Studio 6.0: Non-Linear Editing software
* Jems Stealth: External SCSI RAID solution
* Hollywood FX 4.0: 3D Special FX plug-in
* Videonics Command Post: USB Jog Shuttle Add-On